Ben Said (and Jonty the Guide Dog)
Ben Said is our 2019 Ambassador for the new Para category, introduced for the first time this year. Ben was born with a genetic condition called NF1. It caused brain tumours that pressed on his optic nerves, which in his own words are “pretty much dead now”. Ben stopped using his cane at 13… “I thought I had enough sight to get along and if I fell, I fell. I didn’t want to drag a pole around everywhere”. But last June, the rapid sight loss started and with that, he completely lost his independence.
With the support of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, Ben was provided with a Guide Dog called Jonty. “He’s helped me to regain my independence and he’s someone on those dark days who I can go and hug. He’s my best friend.”
Ben is an excellent athlete and had started training for the Tokyo Paralympic 5,000 metres in 2016. But with his sight loss, he could not enter that event. So after running in the 2018 Melbourne Marathon Festival, Ben is now training in an attempt to make the 2020 Paralympic Marathon instead. “It’s going to be tough, but with the help of Jonty to get me through, I know I can reach my dreams.” Ben will compete in the 2019 Pub2Pub with Jonty at his side.
Local sporting legend, Steve ‘Beaver’ Menzies, has again accepted an invitation to remain a Pub2Pub Ambassador in 2019. Steve joins newly appointed Ben Said and long-time Ambassador, former World Ironman Champ., Guy Leech.
Steve is of course one of the greatest players ever to wear the maroon and white of the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles. The 180 tries he scored for Manly remains the third highest total ever in the history of Australian first grade rugby league… and of course, it must be remembered that Steve played the bulk of his career in the forwards!
In total, Steve played 510 first grade, State of Origin and Test Matches, scoring an incredible 251 tries. When invited to be part of Pub2Pub he said: “I always wanted to run in this great event, but it was always held ‘in season’ when I played for Manly… and then I went overseas to finish my career. Now I’m back and am thrilled to again be an ambassador for the largest annual community event held on the northern beaches. And this year I’m running! (After all I have to beat Cliffy’s effort last year when he ran the 3km pushing his grandson in a pram!)”
Guy Leech is a former Australian Ironman surf lifesaving champion who also won the World Ironman Championships as well as the World Ocean Paddling Championship in Hawaii. He won seven Uncle Toby’s Super Series races and twice won The Coolangatta Gold and then the Uncle Toby’s version of that famous event, titled the ‘Gold Coast Gold’, after the sport had become professional.
During his entire career, Guy remained undefeated over surf’s toughest event. He was once dubbed Australia’s Fittest Athlete by the Australian Institute of Sport. He has been a valued Ambassador of the Pub2Pub for almost a decade.